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Pomeroy v. Little League Baseball of Collingswood

Decided: June 18, 1976.

SARAH JO POMEROY AND RICHARD POMEROY, HER HUSBAND, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL OF COLLINGSWOOD, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT, AND TRUSTEES OF EDWARD C. KNIGHT PARK, DEFENDANT



Lynch, Larner and Horn.

Per Curiam

Plaintiff Sarah Jo Pomeroy sued defendants Little League and the trustees of the Edward C. Knight Park alleging that she had been injured when some bleachers collapsed while she was watching a Little League game. Her husband sued per quod. A motion to dismiss the action against the codefendant park was granted and there was no appeal from that order.

Defendant Little League moved for summary judgment on the ground that N.J.S.A. 2A:53A-7, the charitable immunity statute, required dismissal of the action. The summary judgment motion was granted and plaintiffs appeal.

We affirm. Contrary to plaintiffs' contention, there was no genuine issue of material fact which required trial on the two issues involved here: whether defendant had been organized for exclusively educational purposes and whether plaintiff was a beneficiary of defendant's works. Both questions were purely a matter of law to be decided by the trial judge.

Defendant's certificate of incorporation states:

That the purpose for which it is formed is to give an opportunity to the boys of the Borough of Collingswood between the ages of 9 and 12 to play baseball under conditions approximating those in the big leagues as nearly may be made possible; to give the boys of the Borough of Collingswood an opportunity to learn the rules of baseball and play the game under organized supervision; to inculcate to players that spirit of fair play, sportsmanship and discipline which is the foundation of the American character.

The second article of defendant's constitution reads as follows:

OBJECTIVE

(a) The objective of the Little League shall be to firmly implant in the boys of the community the ideals of good sportsmanship, honesty, loyalty, courage and reverence, so that they may be finer, stronger and happier boys and will grow to be good, clean healthy men.

(b) The objective will be achieved by providing supervised competitive athletic games. The supervisors shall bear in mind that the attainment of a special athletic skill or the winning of games is secondary, and the molding of future men of prime importance.

The trial judge was right in holding that defendant had therefore been formed for exclusively educational purposes. As noted by the Law Division in Stoolman v. Camden County Council Boy Scouts , 77 N.J. Super. 129 (Law Div. 1962):

The term "educational" is generic and could include "recreational" even if the word "recreation" was not used in the defendant's constitution. Education is defined as "discipline of mind or character through study or instruction." Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. Article II of defendant's constitution, supra , states that the purpose of education and recreation is for character development, citizenship training, and physical fitness. This discipline of character through instruction is fulfilled in ...


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